Celebrating the Small Joys of Life

Sometimes It Is the Smallest Pleasures That Count the Most

Earlier this week, we engaged in a bit of “Curmudgeonology” (No, this probably is not a real word, but if you can bluff your way into using it, that Scrabble game is yours for the taking). I don’t know about you, but I thought our curmudgeon list was fun to build. It’s good to blow off a little steam now and then. Based on your emails and comments, we share a lot of the same irritants.

As promised, we will end the week with the flip side. Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day; let’s share a little love. Today, we celebrate people, things, places, and happenings that bring joy. These are the little things that can cause us to sigh with relief, laugh with joy, smile with satisfaction. Here’s at least a part of my list, in no particular order. I look forward to hearing about yours.

 Let Me Count the Ways
  1. A Walk in the Forest: Any walk, any time, any forest. Whatever is bothering me, the forest at least makes it disappear for a while. Often times, the forest – it’s quite beauty and delightful complexity – provides me with answers to what has been bothering me.
  2. A Surprise Sunrise or Sunset: My dog and I are still on Army time. We tend to do our first walk well before sunrise, a second one just at sunrise. On occasion, we make a turn on the trail or crest a hill and are greeted by a take your breath away sunrise that I had not anticipated. It never ceases to delight and inspire. If you routinely sleep too late to greet the sunrise, you are missing one of life’s great visual symphonies. Occasionally a sunset gives the same gift, but there is a special magic about such a display at the beginning of a new day.
  3. Someone to Spoon With: If you are fortunate enough to regularly wake up with a partner next to you, this one is for you. There are few pleasures in life as pleasant as being about half awake, in a pale light, slightly chilled and remembering the love of your life is right there, to spoon with, to warm up with. It is a moment of quite affection, of silent communication, of connection. Perfect.
  4. A Wood Fire: Burning wood in great quantities is now recognized as not a good thing environmentally, but on a small scale, this is a sin I retain. Is there anything better than a new fire catching, spreading light, warmth, and a wonderful aroma? There is not. And it only gets better with time. Such a pleasure to stoke and tend a fire. It’s about as basic a thing as we do. The earliest cave men did the same thing, experienced the same pleasures. 
  5. The Smell of Fresh Cut Lumber: For some, they sense only sawdust and dusty smell when lumber is cut. Me? It’s a sensory ambrosia. The sawdust smells better than any cologne I have known. The wood, with its variations in texture and shape, offers your hands the possibility of hours of Zen-like work. Together, you and the wood will create something new. Something that will at once be beautiful and useful. It is a perfect material, challenging the craftsman to rise to the occasion.

    And How About These?
  6. Communicating and Touching a Dog at Eyeball Level: Like most of you, I long ago decided that dogs are far more superior creatures than they are generally recognized to be. So, I invest some time and energy in how best to know these creatures. I find everything changes if we are eyeball to eyeball, at the same level. Sometimes I almost feel that we can break through the language barrier that still separates our species. What surprises await us? In the meantime, let’s enjoy each other’s company. 
  7. Time Given to Cloud Watching and Star Gazing: We do way too little of this as adults. It seems only children understand the importance of doing this. We should follow their example. I am fortunate enough to live of late in a place with rapidly changing skies in the day and remarkably clear skies at night. This good fortune has reintroduced me to the immersive pleasure of sky watching. If it’s been awhile since you indulged, stop reading and go do it now. When you do it, take enough time to be absorbed in it. I promise you; your mind will clear, and your pulse will slow. Heck, you may even see that cloud that looks like… well, you tell me what it resembles. 
  8. Spending Time with the Right People: I have news for you. The amount of time you have on this planet is limited. You really should pay some attention to who you spend that time with. Yeah, I know – sometimes you don’t have any choice. But sometimes you do. Who should be in your posse? I vote for people that make you laugh and make you think. People whose company you can enjoy in long stretches without conversation. Those with whom you can enjoy a good, healthy argument. Individuals you not only like but respect. Hopefully, you are on someone’s list as having all those same qualities. 
  9. Meeting a Challenge, Solving a Puzzle, However Small: A life without speed bumps and hurdles would be boring and unfulfilling. We have bodies and minds meant to be developed and challenged. Sometimes it is easier said than done, but I try to see a problem not as an obstacle but as a challenge. A setback can be an opportunity to learn. I often accept a problem with no clue how to solve it. If I fail, so be it. If I succeed, I have learned something new. A solved challenge feels a lot like that smooth piece of wood we discussed a bit earlier. Nice. 
  10. A Slow Read: Ever find yourself enjoying a book or an article that was so well written, you slowed down your reading to stretch out the experience? I do that from time to time. You just want to luxuriate in the well-turned phrase, tarry a bit with the real as life characters. You don’t want the experience to end. I find I alternate in thinking, “Man, that is well written,” and “Why didn’t I write that?!” I have passed on the statement before: “Words are magic; writers are magicians.” Good writing is a high mark of a fine mind and exceptional communication. When you find it, enjoy it. And say thanks.
 Ring Any Bells?

Well, that’s my list – at least for today. How about you? Any of these resonate with you? Do you have others to share? Your emails are always welcome, but comments on the blog are great for sharing. What is making you smile these days?

Happy Valentines Day.

      Bill Clontz

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